The Hobbit trilogy has thrown Tolkien-fans a rather rare problem: way too much screentime for some of their most beloved characters. So, what could have been cut to make the movie a little smaller and a whole lot better? So, so much.
After reading this review of the final installation of The Hobbit to make its way — slowly and painfully — across movie screens, a discussion began about just what scenes could have been cut to get the nearly nine-hour story down to a steely 3 hours, or so.
And the list is not small:
The Fellowship of the Ring is 177,227 words long. The Hobbit is 95,022. Fellowship of the Ring fit into a three-hour movie, why couldn't the shorter book? I realize that word count doesn't match up 1-to-1 in screen time, but given the significantly increased length of Fellowship I have a hard time believing that it couldn't be pulled off with The Hobbit.
Just off the top of my head:
1) It takes Fellowship less than 5 minutes at the beginning (with Galadriel voiceover) to explain the background of the One Ring, the Last Alliance, and Isildur's failure. Return of the King takes less time to explain how Smeagol was corrupted into Gollum by the One Ring. It takes An Unexpected Journey over 15 minutes for Bilbo to relate in voiceover how Smaug took the Lonely Mountain from the dwarves.
2) It takes AUJ about 10 minutes to establish that Radagast the Brown lives in the woods, is friends with wild animals, and is a peer of Gandalf's.
3) Just about every action scene in the first two movies is 4 or 5 times as long as it has to be. The dwarven band of "merchants, miners, tinkerers, toy-makers" kills more Misty Mountains goblins in a single scene than the Fellowship, half of whom are veteran warriors, kills in two, maybe three films.
4) In Desolation of Smaug, what was the point of the political intrigue subplot in Laketown? It's just padding.
5) Does Legolas need to be in these films? All he does is ruin every scene he's in.
6) Do Galadriel and Saruman have to be in these films? The only thing the Necromancer subplot does in the book is explain why Gandalf isn't there most of the time to save the dwarves' bacon. In retrospect it also sets up Lord of the Rings, but we can watch those films if we want to know the eventual outcome.
Ok, but do we have to suffer through non-canonical additions? When did the dwarves get into a fight with Smaug in the book? Who is Tauriel?
The goblin bit in the first movie (which accomplished what, exactly?) and the part with the stone giants.
OHMYGOD I WONDER IF HALF OUR MAIN CHARACTERS JUST GOT SPLATTED TO DEATH IN AN INSTANT??!!?! No, they didn't. And I didn't wonder that because I've seen a movie before. And so had everyone else in the theater.
Meanwhile other commenters tried to come up with a title for the newly stripped-down version of the trilogy:
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Edit
Or, in this case, The Hobbit: A Totally Expected Edit
The Hobbit: the Long Awaited Edit
While others merely wondered just what else the extended versions might open the door to:
Hmm. Well, maybe the fifty-film epic of The Silmarillion will be better.
What do you think? Do you have your own list of things that could have been whittled out of the trilogy to the benefit of all movie-goers? Or do you want to make the case for why one of these seemingly superfluous scenes needs to be preserved?
Tell us about in the comments now.